Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Write it Out: How good are the Utes?

I think you'll find with most BYU fans, myself included, that we all have a certain amount of interest in the Utah Utes.

We hate the Utes. We love it when they're miserable, and yet we can't help but keep tabs on them. You know I'm right, BYU fans. Admit it: You all run to find out the score of the Utah game just a touch slower than you run to find out the score to the BYU game.

Actually, I take that back. Not every BYU fan has this interest in their rivals. Some fans have reached what I like to call "Rivalry Nirvana," which is a state of mind in which Utah has lost all meaning and BYU is the only focus of the mind. These fans care as much about the Utah Utes as they do the Temple Owls, or the IUPUI Jaguars. BYU is the only thing on their minds.

Apathy, after all, is far worse than hate.

I envy these people, but I'm not there yet. The Utes are still very much on my mind. I hate them, and I want them to lose every game (even if by winning they would "help the conference"). I've said it before, but I love watching the Utes lose almost as much as I love watching the Cougs win.

That being said, Utah is enjoying its fair share of cranks through the hype machine heading into the 2008 season. We BYU fans know what that's like, being the BCS-busting favorites for the upcoming season, but the pirate Ute fans have no doubt in their minds that Utah will be the real deal.

Some Cougar fans even agree.

The Utes return almost as many weapons to their offense as BYU. Brian Johnson, Darrell Mack, Brent Casteel, Matt Asiata and a very talented offensive line return on offense, and their defense includes the Kruger brothers and probably the best defensive backfield in the conference.

There are a few defensive question marks, such as the D-line depth and the linebackers, but the Utes certainly aren't short on talent.

Most Utes and Cougars agree: When the two Utah powerhouses meet in November, it very well may be a clash of two undefeated teams.

Personally... I think the Utes are being a tad over-optimistic. The Utes have a lot of assets, true, but I'm not that impressed. The conversations about the upcoming season usually also fail to include the Utes' greatest liability: Their bumbling dummard of a coach.

Kyle Whittingham and his staff have been solely responsible for the Utes' schizophrenic tendencies over the past two seasons. Losing to Air Force, trouncing UCLA, getting shut out by UNLV and then beating up on Louisville are signals that the coaching is inconsistent, lazy and emotion-driven.

Plus, the Utes claim they have all their offensive weapons back, but these weapons are more akin to wrist-rockets and beebee guns than the offensive sidewinders and tomahawk missles we're working with. I mean, was anyone really that impressed with Brian Johnson when he came down to Provo last year? And how many yards did Darrell Mack have against us? 25? I admit, I'm genuinely impressed by Brent Casteel, but the rest of them are average at best.

So, after this lengthy pre-amble, I pose the question to you, my readers: How good will the Utes be this year? How many games will they lose? Before answering, consider this:

  • The Utes open their season at Michigan in The Big House. Yes, Michigan is implementing a new system with a new coach, but this is still a big game against some pretty stellar athletes
  • The Utes also play a good Oregon State team mid-season
  • The Utes have two tough MWC road games at New Mexico and Wyoming, and you know the Cowboys are looking for some payback after last year's thumping
  • The Utes have to play BYU

Personally, I see the Utes losing up to 4 maybe 5 games this year. Michigan and BYU are definite losses, and they will lose at least one against OSU, UNM and Wyoming. They do have the talent to roll through those games, but the inconsistent, sloppy Utes I have come to know and love will never live up to their potential.

How good are the Utes and how many games will they lose in 2008?

What say you? Go ahead readers: Write it out.


Trevor said...

I couldn't agree with you more on the Kyle Whittingham thing. They've had talent the last 2 years as well and haven't been able to put together any consistent run because their coach is inconsistent. Until he proves me wrong, I can't believe he will get his tubby act together. He's just too inconsistent for them to be consistently good. That doesn't mean they're not dangerous however.

And with my facebook friend Brian Johnson.....he just isn't that good. He's always hurt, and has changed his game to where he doesn't run much anymore. He's not a pocket passer. At least not a good one. And if you go with history, he'll get hurt this season. He's fragile. I'm not wanting him or anyone to get hurt, but so far he's been injured every single year. So why would this year be any different?

Utes blow. TYF. I hate them so gosh dang much.

Justin said...

I will be the first to admit that I don’t know a ton about the dirty utes. Apart from that, what I do know is what I have learned from other loyal Cougar fans. That is my disclaimer for the bias of this comment.

I don’t know what to say about the inconsistency of the utes. The common convention says that it is the coach’s job to keep the team on an even keel and playing to their ability in every game. K-whit has effectively gotten his team up for the big games, but at what expense? I have no doubt that they will play well against Michigan, Oregon State, and of course BYU. But will they get shut out by Utah State? Just as likely I believe. I wonder if they even know that they are playing the Aggies.

As far as personnel goes I don’t see all that much. Even though they played us tough and nearly beat us last year, I didn’t see a standout that will likely be an all conference threat this year. The Brian Johnson hype is overdone and Mack and Casteel suffer from what I like to call ego-it is. They will have a solid roster, but so do 90% of D-1 teams. To win consistently you need greatness, which I am afraid they don’t have.

Finally, I don’t think that they can bust the BCS or even win the conference. I say this for one simple reason, BYU. GO COUGS!!

Adam said...

Two rock-tight comments. Well done.

Rock said...

Funny I should come upon this post, Adam. I was just "writing it out" on the Utah Fan Facebook group.

I could actually see the Utes beating Michigan and Oregon State, but I just don't see the idiots going undefeated in conference. It just ain't gonna happen under fat-trash Whitt.

I think they'll lose 2 games by the time they play BYU. I also think they'll lose 3 players, an assistant coach, and 10 fans by the time they play BYU, due to a nasty mob at the Wyoming game.

Then they'll lose to BYU and go on to play in the lame-a Poinsettia Bowl again against Navy and brag on about their stupid bowl win-streak.

Oh, and Mack sucks. I'll still race him at the point of the mountain whenever he's ready to lose.

Russ Nelson said...

Who's to say that the whole Ute starting lineup including Whit won't get hurt during the first half of the Michigan game? Which would turn into another "rebuilding year".

I don't see the Utes going very far this year. Brian Johnson is not as big of a threat because his game has changed. They seem deep a the running back position, but they did at the first of last year also.

When you look at the Utes there are a lot of question marks because you never know who will show up which comes from preparation. Whitt I'm looking at you. The Utes will never crack top 15 with Whitt as coach. FACT

Sarah T. said...

When the Cougars come into SLC to play the Utes will have two losses about to get a third.

Parley said...

Their coaching is volatile and emotional - the play on the field follows. If I were to predict how many losses for Utah, I'd have to interrupt my contemplation of all things BYU and look up the Utes schedule...

No can do. As far as they're concerned, "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take athought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."

Adam said...

Rivalry Nirvana in action. Nice job.

Your Dad said...

You are a an idiot with zero credibility when it comes to Utah sports.

Doesn't it get tiring to have your head up your arse all the time.

You are all just a bunch of Ute Haters that couldn't get into the U.

Adam said...

Hey dad, I think I disagree.

I mean, if you're saying I have no credibility because I'm not a professional, then okay. You're right.

But if you're saying I have no credibility because I don't know anything about the U, then you're dead wrong. I know your players, and more importantly I've seen them play. Quite a few times, actually (which is more than I can say for actual Utah fans, judging by the stands).

Based on what I've seen with my own eyes, Utah players are erratic, inconsistent and lazy. They'll get their panties all in a bunch for the big games, but then they'll drop the ball (literally) against teams they should beat soundly. This has a lot to do with coaching, which has demonstrated itself to be less than impressvie over the past few years.

But you are right, I probably couldn't get into the U. I hear their Air conditioning/refrigerator repair school is one of the best in the country.

Andy & Jessica said...

The perfect year always ends with Coach Wittingham in tears. If I could script it, then BYU and Utah would be undefeated. Then the trash talk would commence, and if Utah could lead for three quarters and have it ripped out of their arms at the end of the game as in previous years. Then the devastation in the hearts of Ute fans would reach its summit.

That is how much I hate the Utes. Remember, it is only in tasting the joy of winning, that the pain is so unbearable when it is taken away. Believe me, as an Ohio State fan, it didn't get better than beating Michigan two years ago when both teams were undefeated.

Taylor Bryant Howe said...

Adam, your reputation precedes you my friend. I don't know you that well but Seth and Mike rant and rave about your sports writing prowess. Luckily, i stumbled upon your blog this afternoon via facebook. Your Ute article was well written. BYU will have an excellent team this year and as much as I despise them, part of me may want them to do well...only for the good of the church. That being said, as a true third generation U of U alum and loyal fan i will end my comment by saying...The Utes will beat the Cougars at Rice Eccles in November, count on it.